The Boondocks

Nemo, The Pole of Inaccessibility

In 1992 a survey engineer, Hrvoje Lukatela, calculated the most remote oceanic location from land and he ended up with a place now called Nemo, The Pole of Inaccessibility. It is over 1,000 miles from the nearest land and those places—Pitcairn, Antarctica and Easter Island are themselves pretty boondoxian*. Generally, the only people who come near Nemo are astronauts flying 250 miles overhead.

But Nemo has a few things going on. It has become an international trash can for garbage from the land, the sea and outer space. Mostly it’s populated by busted beer coolers, mico-plastics and fishing floats all spinning in a gyre just like the larger one in the north Pacific. In these places the currents swirl in a gigantic circles trapping the trash in ever increasing concentration.

Because it’s so far from land it has been selected (by those who select such things) to be where they ‘put down’ old spaceships and satellites; that is, those that can be steered. There have been over a hundred such ‘strategic controlled descents’ and much of the debris floats. Items like foam heat shielding and even the items cosmonauts might use like printed copies of the book Stalin, Lover of Cats or sex toys. I say cosmonauts because the biggest junker was the Russian Mir Space Station which came down March 23rd 2001. The only populated area which might be threatened was Japan so the Russians bought a 200 billion dollar insurance policy in case they dropped the Mir on the Ginza.

The reentry had been anticipated for some time and Taco Bell had the rather brilliant idea to float a 20×20 foot tarp with a bullseye printed on it in ocean near Australia. They promised that if the Mir hit the target they would give everyone in America a free taco. That would cost about 100 million if everyone redeemed the coupon. But in reality you might get 10% uptake and in any case they took out insurance against the possibility so they got millions in free advertising and my undying respect. The Mir missed the target, surprise surprise surprise.

I even went to a Taco Bell to pay my respects by buying what they call tacos after which my stomach hurt badly, plus they serve Pepsi which no one wants.

Taco Bell has a long history of pushing limits. In 1996 they took out full page ads in major newspapers announcing that, in a burst of patriotism, they had bought the Liberty Bell to help reduce the national debt and had renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell. This was announced on April 1st but thousands thought it was true and they were not happy. Makes one want to storm the Capital!—oh wait the Taco Liberty Bell is in Philadelphia.

I could never top this

Clinton White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry thought it was pretty funny and added to the chaos—though he took heat for it later. “We will be doing a series of these things,” said McCurry. “Ford Motor Company is joining today in an effort to refurbish the Lincoln Memorial. … It will be the Lincoln Mercury Memorial.”

National Park Service Director Roger Kennedy whose department has charge of the bell said, “We are encouraged by the outpouring of concern and I assure everyone that the ad is as false as it is cheesy (editor’s note; ‘cheesy’ or does he mean extra cheesy?). The Liberty Bell belongs to all Americans. It is not now, nor will it ever be for sale under any circumstances, period.”

At Independence National Historical Park, rangers were pulled from typical duties to field hundreds of phone calls. Personally, I’m in favor of selling it. I mean really! One of the symbols of our nation is a badly made bell with huge crack in it? Because it’s so fragile the bell hasn’t been rung since 1846 though it is occasionally tapped lightly on special occasions. Hummm, maybe it is the perfect symbol of our nation after all.

Wait. This article is about Nemo, right? OK, back to Nemo. In 1997 a research vessel in the area recorded a non-mechanical ‘bloop’ which was determined to be louder than any known sea creature.

In the novel, The Call of Cthulhu, H P Lovecraft wrote of a giant sea monster near the lost city of R’yleh in the South Pacific Ocean. Lovecraft gave R’yleh the coordinates 47°9′S 126°43’W, which is just a few miles from Nemo and near where the Bloop was recorded. Never mind that Lovecraft wrote about his sea creature in 1928. Some conspiracy aficionados speculate that the ‘Pole of Inaccessibility’ was, in fact, home to this yet-undiscovered creature.

It was soon determined that the noise was Antarctic icebergs calving into the sea but now we live in age of ‘personal reality’ and facts can go hang themselves. Me, I’m just happy to picture armless Malibu Barbie Dolls bobbing in the sea next to Mylar envelopes of scorched Russian condoms and a few waterlogged pages of Anna Karenina.

*Boondocks. The expression was introduced to English by US Military personal coming back for the War with Spain in the Philippines in 1899 and comes from a Tagalog word “bundók” which means: a bewildering jungle populated by guerrillas with guns.

No no

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2 Comments

  • Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone with a whole lot of money (and I mean a LOT of money) could take floating excavators with buckets or claws to go to these gyres and scoop up the trash that is going round and round put it on barges and take it all …shit, where on earth could they put that much trash? OK, thinking cap is on… First place it would have to go to is a sorting area to separate plastic, glass, rubber, metal, biological waste and mystery stuff. The sorters would need to make a great salary because it will be a messy, disgusting job. They might even require Hazmat suits to protect against radiation. Anything that can be recycled will go directly to be cleaned and recycled. Biological waste could be cleaned and composted. Anything left (mystery stuff) will be taken to the governments of every country and dumped on the desk/doorstep/front lawn of their leader.
    Then follow them around filming what they do with the garbage on their desks. It will be fun!
    This whole process will need to be done twice a year, given how much garbage the human race can generate.
    Unless we stop using disposable items we are going to bury ourselves in garbage.

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